Growing up in Bulawayo, eating street food like chibage (green mealies) and making sadza (mielie meal porridge) with her grandmother, who was an integral part of her upbringing, is what sparked the love affair with African food that she’s eager to share.
The former MasterChef SA contestant has been fortunate enough to turn her passion for cooking into a career and this year published a cookbook, aptly called A Love Affair with Food in Africa, which enjoyed a successful launch in Las Vegas in January.
South Africans can share Gavazzi’s love affair by watching her cooking show, Into the Wild, on ITV (DStv Channel 347) in which the food enthusiast creates five-star quality dishes on a wood-fired stove.
Gavazzi said: “With A Love Affair With Food in Africa, I’ve taken the African flavours ingrained in my cooking and given them a modern twist to make the food the fashionable cuisine I know it to be.
“My biggest desire is to make African cuisine something that the world craves just as much as they do any other.”
She’s crafting a trademark for herself in the cooking world. An example is the uniqueness of the recipes in her book: a garlic and chilli relish; sadza or traditional mealie pap with a variety of sauces and relishes; and a dish inspired by her father’s Mozambican prawn recipe.
“I have a fabulous relationship with food. It is such an integral part of all our lives and I’m lucky enough to be working with it as my job.
“I feel very privileged to be able to share my passion for African inspired food with the world.
“My childhood food experiences laid the foundation of my food career and created a relationship with food that will hopefully take Africa to the world.”
The passionate chef attributes her love for cooking to her family, specifically her father.
Not one to follow food trends, but rather to create them, Gavazzi said recreating an old recipe is what’s hot on her menu at the moment.
“Food trends are constantly keeping us on our toes in the kitchen, looking for new ideas and creating something delicious and fresh.
“I am not much of a follower of trends, I kind of make my own.
“For me bringing old recipes into the now is hot on my menus; I love a re-creation of an old faithful.”
Gavazzi said her book was a tribute to “this beautiful country” she calls her home and also her culture.
“African cuisine is often forgotten about(this) is my culture and my life. All I want to do is share it with the world.”
She said much more needed to be done to promote local cuisine and has made it her mission the change the status quo.
“There is not enough of it; our food is left on the back burner unfortunately and I am determined to change that.
“Local African food is unlike any other and can be re-created in many ways. I am determined to do that too.”
A Love Affair with African Food is available at Merchants On Long in Cape Town, www.merchantsonlong.com.
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